Ly Vendredy, chief of Village 15, stood inside the Tonle Bassac Theater compound Sunday—about three meters from where people were voting—and told voters to cast their ballot for the CPP.
First, polling station workers told him to stop. Then an election observer working for the European Union gave it a try.
“Please don’t behave like this; it is very ugly,” the observer said. “We need a fair election and justice.”
But Ly Vendredy did not stop “advising” his villagers until a high-ranking official with the National Election Committee told him he was breaking the law and had to stop.
The overly helpful village chief was only one of the problems that surfaced in Village 15 Sunday, as voters tried to cast their votes for commune council members.
Meas Saroeun, 48, arrived at her voting station with her voter ID card, only to discover that, according to the record, she had already voted.
“Who has voted for me?” she said. “I hurried to finish my cooking so I could vote, and they told me I had already voted.”
Meas Saroeun is well-known in Village 15 and no one else with that name lives there, said fellow resident Moa Sophea.
Meas Saroeun and her witnesses tried Sunday to convince election officials to allow her to vote, but Chheng Kosal of the commune election committee staff said she could not.
“We will send her to the commune election committee headquarters [for a resolution], along with some other problems,” he said.
Some voters had their voter cards, but not the white paper indicating a current registration; others had registration papers but no voter cards. Without both, they could not vote.
Moeuk Phat, 27, had only his registration paper. “I wanted to vote very much, but they wouldn’t let me,” he said. “I am very disappointed.”
Keo Sarin, 57, had her 1998 voter card, but no current registration paper.
She was burned out of her original home in Village 15, but traveled all the way from her new home in Russei Keo district on Sunday, only to be told she couldn’t vote.
She would have voted for the Sam Rainsy Party if she’d had the chance, she said. “I like only candle light,” she joked. “Not electric light or fire.”